Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) achieves recognition and influence for transportation infrastructure industry


Representing transportation infrastructure contractors and companies involved in the manufacturing, distribution and supply of equipment, products and services, the Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA) is active in both high level and grassroots initiatives aimed at improving the industry.

ORBA executive
director, Geoff Wilkinson


Executive director Geoff Wilkinson says in 2015 ORBA succeeded in having the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) remove the litigation provision within its exclusion clause. “This is a significant step in allowing contractors the right to resolve disputes through the legal system without the threat of exclusion from MTO work.”

He says unfortunately this is still an issue with many municipalities, not only in Ontario, but right across Canada.

ORBA has also worked collaboratively with the MTO on the modernization of its contract management framework process which includes improvements to the qualifications committee process, changes to the dispute resolution process including the use of a third party referee, amendments to the infraction process, changes to the application of liquidated damages and its focus on the role and training of contract administrators. “We are also continuing to work on the contractor performance rating process.”

Wilkinson says in 2015 ORBA also approached the Ministry of Infrastructure and Economic Development to conduct a Red Tape Reduction Roundtable in an effort to reduce a number of obstacles frustrating and impeding business for members. “The applicable ministries have been working with ORBA to resolve the issues of the oversize – overweight permit application process; recycled aggregates; species at risk; contracting and information; and permit to take water – environmental activity and sector registry for short-term water takings.”

Working more directly with its members, ORBA conducted its own roundtables across Ontario to evaluate issues and concerns members have with alternative delivery model projects. He says the association is working with Global Public Affairs to produce a research paper on this topic.

Looking to the future, Wilkinson says he expects 2016 will be a busy and productive year as well. ORBA has identified five key issues based on member input. These issues are: Alternative Delivery Models (ADM); early tender calls; claims and disputes; municipal infrastructure deficits; and the environment.

“ORBA will work to address these and other issues through our 17 different committees which includes more than 170 active volunteers. Many of our committees include owner representation.”

He says the association takes pride in working collaboratively with public owners to bring solutions to issues.

Beyond member identified issues, Wilkinson says ORBA would like to see legislation to protect maintenance workers by recognizing maintenance vehicles as emergency vehicles in slow down and move over legislation. “Far too often, maintenance vehicles are struck at the side of roads and highways putting workers and the driving public at risk.”

In addition to this, he says ORBA would like to have the province implement speed cameras in community safety and construction zones. “Unfortunately, drivers do not reduce speeds in designated construction zones and workers’ lives are put in danger.”

While the association’s members to date have not had an issue around capacity or labour shortages, Wilkinson says this is an area ORBA continues to monitor. He says large public sector owners do a good job of publishing projects and plans out as far as five and 10 years which supports proper staffing levels. He recognizes however that with an estimated 250,000 skilled construction workers expected to retire over the next decade, shortages are likely to touch all sectors of the industry.

For its part, ORBA is a founding member of the Ontario Construction Careers Alliance, which promotes careers in construction with an emphasis on civil construction to high school students.

This new workforce will be needed to support the growth projected by the recent federal and provincial infrastructure investments. “Research conducted by the Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis shows that a $1 billion investment in Ontario’s infrastructure generates and supports $16.3 billion in GDP in the province over the next 30 years, assuming other growth occurs. Further research shows that on average, a $1 billion investment supports 85,000 jobs in the province over the next 30 years.”

ORBA’s 89th Convention and Annual General Meeting

Held in February at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, ORBA’s Convention and Annual General Meeting this year saw record attendance with more than 900 delegates.

Besides networking opportunities, the event included information sessions on topics including: Cap and Trade in Ontario; Understanding and Improving Collaborative Performance; Driving Performance, Meeting the Challenge; Fraud: How to Protect Yourself; and a Canadian Construction Association 2016 Update.

Alex Tagliani, Indy driver and inductee into the Canadian Mosport Hall of Fame delivered the keynote address called ‘Driving Performance’.

Wilkinson says MTO, Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx and key cities and municipalities also presented their capital budget plans for the coming year. Transportation Minister Stephen Del Duca addressed the delegates and also presented the Paver of the Year Award.

Ontario Road Builders’ Association (ORBA)

ORBA Award Recipients

2016 Ontario Road Building Hall of Fame Inductee – Robert (Bob) Bugden

2015 Director of the Year Award – Geoffrey Stephens, Capital Paving Inc.

2015 Distinguished Service Award – Dave Reid, Cruickshank

2015 ORBA Community Leadership Award – Leo McArthur, The Miller Group

Routly Safety Award Winners Main Safety Award – Awarded to the member company that has worked the greatest number of consecutive man hours without a lost-time injury

Category I Winner: less than 100,000 average annual man-hours – Cornell Construction Limited

Category II Winner: more than 100,000 average annual man-hours – Pioneer Construction Inc.

Milestone Awards – Awarded to member companies reaching 500,000 and 1,000,000 consecutive man hours without a lost-time injury: Dragados Canada, Inc. – (735,364 man hours); Powell Contracting Limited – (650,271 man hours); Bermingham Foundation Solutions Limited – (524,170 man hours).

ORBA Green Award 2015 Outstanding Achievement – Miller Paving Limited

2015 Honourable Mention – Roto-Mill Inc.

2014-2015 Outstanding Achievement – R.W. Tomlinson Limited MTO Paver of the Year Award Winners 2015

MTO Hot Mix Paver of the Year: Lavis Contracting Co. Limited: Contract 2013-3018, Location of Contract: Highway 23, North of London from Highway 7 to Highway 8. Finalists: Capital Paving Inc.: Contract 2014-2054, Location of Contract: Highway 6, North of Burlington from Highway 5 to Hamilton Rd 543, and South of Hamilton from Greens Rd. to Upper James St. Aecon Construction and Materials Limited: Contract 2014-5106, Location of Contract: Highway 17, East of North Bay from Highway 94 to Highway 531. Pioneer Construction Inc.: Contract 2014-6001, Location of Contract: Highway 17, East of Kenora between Highway 71 and Gordon Lake Rd. 2015

ORBA Scholarship Recipients

Joe Bunting Scholarship – Awarded to a student entering their final year of a Civil Engineering Technology program at an Ontario college: Amy Isbister, Civil Engineering Technology, Fanshawe College

J.D. Chick Scholarship – Awarded to a student entering their final year of a Civil Engineering program at an Ontario university: Amy Grzywnowicz, Civil Engineering, Western University

ORBA Civil Engineering Technology Scholarship – Awarded to a student entering their first year of a Civil Engineering Technology program at an Ontario college: James Thompson, Civil Engineering Technology, St. Clair College

ORBA Civil Engineering Scholarship -Awarded to a student entering their first year of a Civil Engineering program at an Ontario university: Claudius Dalm, Civil Engineering, Windsor University


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